Many of you will know that I’m a Christian and have been for 2 and a half years. It’s the first thing on my Instagram bio, I post about it a lot, the majority of the people I know are Christians etc. But the question from there is often “So what?” Like what relevance does that have to anything other than myself? In fact, what does that mean to me? I’m going to talk about how the decision to follow Christ has changed/currently affects my day-to-day living in 5 different areas. This’ll cover what I believe and what it means too.
So I believe in God. He is three. Not three Gods, but three persons that share the same nature; the nature that is God. Being a Christian means that I believe that it’s possible to have a relationship with God through the acts of one of the persons of God called Jesus. I went to a talk this week and a guy called Jonty Allcock (brilliant guy) describes the need for Jesus perfectly:
God is an angry God. But not angry in our definition of angry. His anger isn’t self-centred like ours. He’s angry at how His world and His people are being treated. Why? Because God is Holy (there is nothing and no-one like God as He is the creator and all else is created), righteous (always knows and does what is right and cannot excuse wrong otherwise wouldn’t be absolutely righteous) and loving (loves all that He has made deeply). Sin is actions that negatively impact anything that He has made and the result of sin is that it ultimately leads to death – not in the way that we understand death, but death in God’s terms (separation from Him). When Jesus died, He experienced death (He was separated from God the Father and Spirit in his dying moments and whilst He was dead so that we could have the option not to.) God redirected His anger at creation towards Himself, so that he could remain holy, righteous and loving but not have to punish us. It’s important that He remains holy, righteous and loving or everything falls completely apart.
How does this stuff impact my life? Well, I don’t just follow Jesus’ good teachings, but believe that I’m not good by God’s standard of good (absolute goodness) and that only God could make it possible for me to reach his standard by dying in my place to cover the cost of my wrongs. It doesn’t mean that I walk away scotch free, it means that God is now helping me to be more like Him, but of course I’ll make mistakes. Through this, I’m able to experience a deep friendship with God and speak to Him. I also take time to read God’s word and learn from it about myself, the world, and about God, because you can’t be friends with someone without knowing about them.
A relationship with God could best be described as liberating. People often think that Jesus is making me into a “good person” but He’s actually covering my mistakes, and freeing me from selfish desires. He doesn’t just require His followers to fulfil a list of things but He really invades the heart and looks at all the dark things going on in there and fixes that first instead of just shoving a load of rules down your throat. What’s the point of the change? It doesn’t just make the world a better place or make me a nicer person, but I believe that we are all made in the image and likeness of God but that image became distorted by my wrongs. So upon returning to God, I’m starting to look like Him again. I’m growing in the knowledge of God so that I can look just like my Father on the inside.
I am meant to love God and others more than my own life. Extreme right? Often painful, but very possible. It means often serving other people to my own detriment. It’s sometimes meant to hurt, and that’s okay. The role I serve to other Christians and non-Christians differs slightly. Both are to be loved, but I keep other Christians in check and expect them to do the same to me. It’s my expression of love to them to help them keep pursuing God if they wish to keep doing so, but we’re humans and often fall off track and need a boost to get back in the game. To a non-Christian, there is no accountability from me because their actions don’t matter to God. Jesus’ death is only relevant to those who follow Him – they can do as they please because they are accountable for themselves. It’s only upon deciding to follow Jesus that such a journey takes place, but actions or moral principles alone do nothing for a God who is already perfect, so I don’t police non-Christians or expect them to live like myself. In fact, scriptures say that you can’t please God in the realm of the flesh (without God’s Spirit), so how can I expect someone without God’s Spirit to live like me when I can’t meet God’s standard without God’s Spirit? All I can do, is tell them about what Jesus offers to everyone and about how He’s changing my life in the hopes that they’ll want to know Him too – I can’t force them into a relationship with God.
I talked about how God has a holy, righteous and loving anger and how I’m made in His image, but its a broken or incomplete image because of my wrongs. As I become more like God in character, I get less selfishly angry and more rightly angry at all the things that are wrong with the world. I’ll tell you that I was completely apathetic to things going on in the world so long as it didn’t affect me, and now I’m so moved by all that’s wrong. I specifically have a heart for those affected by sexual assault, rape and trafficking – I get so mad about it that sometimes I have to pray that God would help me not to exercise my anger through violence but through productive means to help rather than hinder the situation. Of course, I believe that people can be moved by injustices without being Christians, but I think that it’s a reflection of God’s character in them that causes them to be that way.
I care about the environment and believe that God has instilled a care for it into my existence. Biblically, our job as humans has always been to steward God’s earth and take care of it for Him, so it get’s me really ticked off seeing it be destroyed. Climate change stresses me a lot which many people are shocked by because they expect Christians to hold a set of primitive beliefs such as climate change denial and so on. I actually care a lot about what happens here on earth, despite the fact that heaven is my home. I hate that we’re wiping out beautiful creatures that God made. I hurt inside when rivers are turning black because a new neon skirt is selling out on Pretty Little Thing. These things stress me because they belong to my Father and affect His creation.
And lastly, my gaze is set on eternity. I long for eternity with God. Heaven is not a cute place because everything you desire is there. That’s the whole point of God changing me – He’s changing my selfish desires so that I’ll just desire to be close to Him. If He is all I desire, then everything I desire is there because He is there, hence why we imagine it to be a place of desire. But that’s the only thing I gain in heaven. And gaining God is enough for me. In heaven, all we’ll do is worship God and sing to Him forever and ever. That might sound wierd or boring. For someone who seeks to know and be close with God, that face to face connection is worth more than life itself.
I always get stressed when I think about heaven because then they have to think about hell. But hell isn’t a place that God makes because He’s cruel, or a place that you’re sent to for not being “good” enough. Hell, is a world where God is absent. In God, we find eternal life, so apart from God, all we can find is the opposite, which is eternal death. By definition, that is what hell is. Going to hell is being shut off from God’s presence eternally, which is something we as humanity have never experienced because as of now, God is omnipresent (everywhere). Hell is literally God saying “I want to be with you but you want nothing to do with Me. I won’t force myself upon you, but I’ll honour your wishes and leave you alone.” I think that the hardest pill to swallow as a Christian is wanting everyone around you to love and be with God, but knowing that it may be their wish to get away from Him, especially as a result of bad experiences with people claiming to be “Christians” or real Christians making mistakes. Being a Christian does not mean shoving Jesus and hell down people’s throats to scare them into loving God – whilst many have (rather aggressively) used that distasteful tactic to scaremonger people into God’s arms, it doesn’t work. Because you can indoctrinate or scare someone into going to church or living a life that looks Christian on the outside, but the choice to love God – the choice to have a true friendship with Him, is an internal and personal choice.